Meet our Top Mentors: Michael O'Rourke from Cape Town, South Africa


As we're approaching the 500 Mentors mark we recently spoke to some of our most active mentors about their experience and their reasons for donating their valuable time to others. In this first interview we spoke to Michael O'Rourke, a former manager who dedicates his time to yoga, mindfulness training and leadership development. His studio Prana Love is based in the beautiful city of Cape Town in South Africa. Michael became a member in the very early days of The Mentoring Club and donated more than 50 hours to people from all continents.

Why did you decide to join The Mentoring Club?

I joined the club in June 2020 at a time when we were in a strict lock down in South Africa. 

I had gone from very busy days teaching yoga in yoga studios every day and working with one-on-one clients in my home based practice, to almost no contact with others at all. In order to stay mentally strong I had to use my meditation and breathing practices every day. But it was still hard not to let the mind go to the worst case scenario. 

That's when I thought that there would be many people out there that would be feeling a lack of purpose or perhaps struggling with anxiety. I had a thought that I want to help others through this difficult time. Within days of that thought I came across the mentoring club. It was meant to be. It is now a year that I have been part of this amazing platform.

What was the most insightful / funny / enlightening session you had so far?

Sometimes I can sense during a session that the mentee needs a little more than discussion and I then offer a brief meditation or a breathing exercise. It is so wonderful to know that within a few minutes we can support each other and help each other through a difficult moment, even if we are thousands of kilometres away.

How many sessions do you offer per week?

At the moment one session per week, however when I have more capacity I then free up more space on my calendar. It therefore changes based on how busy I am.

Why do you donate your precious time?

I strongly believe that we are all connected regardless of geographic distance, language, culture, race or religion. The more we can cultivate compassion, empathy and connectedness for each other, the less greed, hatred and violence will exist. 

I try to connect and share my compassion physically with people in my own city of Cape Town, but the mentoring Club allows me to do this with people from all over the world. 

Also, it's a two way street. I receive so much from the mentees. I see the sessions as an energy exchange of love and learning.

What do you think The Mentoring Club platform will be in 5 years from now?

I believe that the Mentoring Club will become the story from which many many other platforms launch. Other organisation will be coming to the Mentoring Club for guidance on how to start a pro-bono platform. 

Perhaps new focus areas that emerge. For example youth mentoring. Or mentoring for fatherless children (which is a big issue n South Africa).

I see regular conferences and panel discussions. Maybe an annual global conference and hopefully in 5 years time some of us mentors could meet physically.

Tell us a bit about about yourself: What do you do, where do you come from, what makes your life beautiful?

I live in the beautiful city of Cape Town. There is a spectacular beach, with a view of Table Mountain, that is only a 30 minutes walk from my house and I try to walk to the beach every day. 

I have four wonderful children starting with a 25 year old son, a 12 year old son, a 9 year old daughter and my youngest son is little toddler of 20 months.

I love being outdoors. I love swimming in the ocean. I have my most joyous time when I am learning from my children ... learning to let go of seriousness and just have fun.

I have had a daily practice of yoga, mindfulness and meditation for about 10 years now and I have been teaching yoga and mindfulness for about three years.

I have a psychology & counseling degree and I integrate my counseling training with movement, meditation and breath-work and therefore very often the clients that find me are those who are struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction recovery or perhaps simply feeling stuck.

In terms of yoga, I teach Vinyasa, Hatha, Gentle yoga, Yin, Restorative and Nidra. But my favorite by far is Yin yoga. Most of my private one-on-one yoga clients come to me for Yin Yoga.

I also work one-on-one with individuals looking for the integrative healing sessions. Last year I developed a 10 week mindfulness self-discovery and healing programme called "Journey to Joy".

Because I worked in corporate for nearly 30 years, I also work in that space introducing mindfulness practices, primarily as part of their wellness and mental health programmes.